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  • Friday, November 04, 2016 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Greenbuild is the most exciting week of the year for USGBC when industry professionals converge to share ideas and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. This year, members of the green building community and beyond gathered in Los Angeles, California on October 5-7 for the industry’s premier event. 

    Didn’t have the opportunity to attend Grenbuild 2016? Check out the recaps from your fellow Texas Chapter members below, from first-time Greenbuild newbies to Emerging Professionals to seasoned conference goers.

    "The two big USGBC announcements from Greenbuild were the "arc" platform that bridges all the GBCI certifications using big data and LEED for Cities (no details yet!). The expo was as informative as ever and featured several tiny houses. The two big electrochromic glazing competitors tried to outdo each other with View offering a virtual product experience at their booth while Sage glass gave tours of the 71 Above restaurant outfitted with their product in L.A.'s tallest building. The educational sessions were decidedly more technical than in the past and I left each one with new ideas and tools to implement them. I took two tours that were uniquely L.A.. The first showed the polar opposites of the Hollywood neighborhood with a new housing project for homeless and then a Class A+ residential tower incorporating historical buildings of the old CBS radio / TV studio. That tour ended at Morphosis' Emerson College, a dorm and classroom building for the student's L.A. internships, overlooking the Hollywood sign. The second tour was of UCLA with its 30 LEED certified projects on campus and its system wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. Keynote Speakers Bjarke Ingels shared his latest projects while Sebastian Junger told us of war-time loyalties that tapped into our instinctive need for tribal belonging and how these groups can make true change possible. Fun was had too, from Pokemon hunting on Santa Monica Pier to Celebration performances by X Ambassadors and Aloe Blacc." - Tim Murray, USGBC Texas Board of Directors - Secretary

    "When I first learned about Greenbuild, it was described to me as “Disney World for people in our industry”. It most definitely did not disappoint.

    My Greenbuild days looked like this: I reached my daily 10,000 step goal by lunchtime, jumped from one interesting education session to another learning about what new projects and technologies are changing our industry, and was exposed to the most innovative green products on today’s market. However, as amazing as all that was, what really made it “Disney World” for me was being surrounded by thousands of people who genuinely cared about the environment, interacting with leaders that were paving the way so we could all make a difference, and having the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas across all areas of sustainable design." - Marianna Verlage, First Time Greenbuild Attendee

    "It was great to attend Greenbuild this year in LA. I always enjoying going to Greenbuild to see new sustainable and innovate products, attending great educational sessions and networking with other sustainable leaders from around the world!

    This year, I noticed a continued emphasis on Health and Wellness. We are still learning just how important our buildings and spaces can have a big impact on human health.  We need to focus on improving the environment that we live in." - Chris Mundell, North Texas Regional Council - Chairman

    "Greenbuild this year offered a lot of LEED v4 informational sessions.  There was concern expressed by many conference attendees about how project teams will handle the new challenges and how the market will accept the new standards.  There was also a subtle transition in the USGBC’s vision and focus with a new CEO taking over for Rick Fedrizzi, Mahesh Ramanujam.  Mahesh gave an official acceptance speech at the Closing Plenary session where he expressed concerns about growing social issues facing the world.  He originally comes from India and is personally touched by the extreme poverty many people live in and the unequal access to sustainable living environments.  I think in the future we’re going to see a lot more advocacy for gripping social issues from the USGBC… or at least more edgier Master Speaker Sessions at Greenbuild!" Courtney Brinegar, ADVANCE Ambassador

    Thank you, Los Angeles – it was definitely an Iconic Green event! For those of you who missed out this year, mark your calendars for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston on November 8-10, 2017.

    Did you attend Greenbuild 2016? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below! (You must be logged in to leave a comment).


  • Monday, October 10, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    A Green Apple for Our Teachers
    by Stacia Peese

    September has passed and our children are settling in for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic.

    The past several months, I’ve been learning about challenges and opportunities in the education community. How are the students being prepared for the 21st century? What type of tools do they need? How are facilities supporting these progressive learning styles? And how can we pay for it all?  Each of these questions has complex answers. In this blog post, I’m focusing on the maintenance and operation numbers.

    This past spring, USGBC’s Center for Green Schools released a study entitled State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities. The study highlights that many of our school facilities are struggling to provide 21st learning environments because many essential maintenance and capital improvement programs are underfunded.    

    According to the study, on every school day, nearly 50 million students and 6 million adults occupy close to 100,000 buildings. This equates to an estimated 7.5 billion gross square feet and 2 million acres of land. That’s huge! In fact, state and local governments invest more capital in K-12 public school facilities than in any other infrastructure sector outside of the highways. 

    Nationally, between the years of 1994-2013, states and districts spent a total of $925 billion in 2014 dollars on maintenance and operations (M&O), including: daily cleaning, grounds keeping maintenance, utilities, and security of facilities.  This averages to $46 billion per year over those 20 years. In order to keep pace with the projected increase in student enrollment from 2012-2024, M&O spending will need to increase another by another $8M. 

    In 2013, Texas K-12 Public School facilities consisted of 8,731 schools amounting to 602 million gross square feet. Enrollment was set at 4,897,523.  In the period from 1994-2013, Texas public school districts spent $4,598M maintaining and operating its facilities. That is roughly 11% of their total operating funds. The study stated that based on historic rates of spending, the State of Texas will need to increase its spend an additional $2M per year to accommodate the additional 688,641 students projected to enroll in classes between 2012 and 2024. Most of that increase will go toward capital construction and new facilities as Texas’ historic spending on M&O is above the National average.  Since the study was conducted, this may be a challenge to maintain with the declining oil and gas revenues that have been enjoyed by the State. 

    The report’s executive summary provides four key strategies for addressing our challenges.

    1) Understand your community’s public school facilities.
    A key requirement is to have better data on public school infrastructure.
    2) Engage in education facilities planning.
    Education leaders must communicate to the general public the value of safer and healthier environments for learning. Provide a plan.
    3) Support new public funding.  
    Relying primarily on local property taxes will not allow for improvements.  We need to be creative not only on state and local levels.  We need to explore, too, how the federal government may assist. 
    4) “Finally, leverage public and private resources in new ways to assist states and districts in providing healthy, safe, educationally appropriate and environmentally responsible facilities for their communities.” 

    Practicing sustainability in schools can make a big impact in managing our maintenance and operations resources.  A few activities that fall within these categories include daily cleaning, campus waste audits, grounds-keeping, campus beautification, security and school lighting.

    If an educator is interested in going green or know of one that you would like to support, consider the Green Apple Day of Service, a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future. Events can be hosted year round. To plan an event, visit:  http://mygreenapple.org/

    May we always learn new things in order to better support ourselves in the future.  May we always have an environment available to test new skills and theories. That’s what I’m doing here with my first ever blog post as a proud Regional Council member of USGBC Texas, whose mission is to educate all Texans about the benefits of sustainable building. 

    School is never out for the pro, so if you’re interested in opportunities to grow and learn in sustainability, join us!  Here’s how:  https://usgbctexas.wildapricot.org/join-us.


    Stacia Peese, LEED AP
    Staples Business Advantage



  • Friday, September 02, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Catalyzing Urban Resilience in American Cities
    by Anna Clark

    Resilience, a new paradigm for urban planning, green building, and community development, was the subject of the 2016 North Texas Sustainable Showcase, an annual conference hosted by USGBC Texas and other sponsors. The event introduced professionals from every facet of the building sector to elements of urban resilience, a term that both includes and transcends sustainability.

    “Resilience is the preservation of communities through ongoing planning for the capacity to learn, adapt, and change in the face of present-day and future threats, both predictable and unknown,“ said Z Smith, principal and director of sustainability and building performance for New Orleans-based design studio Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.

    From left to right: Keynote Speaker Z Smith, North Texas Regional Council Member Norma Lehman, Keynote Speaker Betsy del Monte. 

    Smith used the example of the New York City’s subway system to illustrate the importance of planning for resilience. It had been “designed to withstand all sorts of events” but Hurricane Sandy, which it might have otherwise survived, “proved too much,” said Smith.

    Juxtaposing the example of an urban system being compromised by an immediate blow, Showcase speakers shared other examples that illustrated the cascading consequences of slow deterioration of infrastructure in the face of rising water, heat, and socio-economic pressures.

    “Things can chronically weaken you over time until you just can’t go on anymore,” said El Paso’s Chief Resilience Officer Nicole Ferrini during her presentation on urban resilience.

    Ferrini defines “city resilience” as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and businesses within a city to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they may experience.  

    As a desert city, El Paso faces consequences of increasing heat; the city experienced four heat-related deaths during this summer. On the positive side, El Paso aims to use its unique circumstances to develop a path for other cities. 

    “El Paso wants to establish the value of a ‘desert ecosystem’,” said Nicole Ferrini.

    In Dallas, chronic stress not only involves increasing heat, but also increasing inequality. According to the analysis from the Urban Institute, which examined inequality within commuting zones (defined as portions of several counties that make up metropolitan areas), Dallas posted the largest neighborhood disparity among commuting zones with at least 250,000 residents.

    “We have a $52 billion health care industry in North Texas, but we have the highest rate of uninsured people,” said Dallas’ Chief Resilience Officer Theresa O’Donnell. Alongside her efforts to bolster the built environment, O’Donnell is emphasizing inclusive economic development in Dallas’ roadmap to resilience. 

    The emphasis in inclusion will also enable the City of Dallas to leverage the support of similarly-aligned civic organizations that are tackling this issue, such as the Inclusive DFW Consortium, a multi-stakeholder community under development with the SMU Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.


    While cities in Texas may seem like underdogs compared to sustainability heavyweights such as San Francisco and New York City, as members of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100RC network, Ferrini and O’Donnell have a track to run on in their race to resilience. The City Resilience Framework provides a lens to understand the complexity of cities and the drivers that contribute to their resilience.

    “Looking at resilience nationally, we see each threat is different but themes are the same,” said Smith. He acknowledged that in some American cities, resilience is not about achieving recognition so much as survival.

    “New Orleans one day may be like Venice, a historic city surrounded by open water,” said Smith.  Fortunately, since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city has made some phenomenal green achievements.

    Referencing leading-edge projects such as the BioInnovation Center, Smith explained that his team’s work in New Orleans “draws on ideas from around the country and around the world.” (Download the Resilient New Orleans Strategy here.)

    Recalling that jazz was invented in New Orleans by drawing on ideas from other places and combining them in original ways, Smith added, “Everyone working in resilience has to improvise, but that improvisation can produce beautiful results.”

    Strengthening communities with social resilience

    While cities often approach resilience to address their most pressing needs, those that are proactive can enjoy what Smith calls the “resilience benefit,” which encapsulates the health, wellness, and financial benefits that accompany efforts toward climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness, and economic inclusivity.

    Accounting for the social side of the urban resilience movement, the conference concluded with a stakeholder experience led by Betsy del Monte, FAIA, LEED BD+C, and Jim Newman, LEED AP O+M and principal at Linnean Solutions.

    “True engagement comes from co-creating efforts with all stakeholders affected,” said Newman. “Our regenerative development approach is to work with communities to create solutions that are aligned with their environmental, social and economic goals and needs as well as the overall resilience framework of the city.”

    Attendees participate in roundtable discussions at North Texas Sustainable Showcase.

    As those of us experienced in the workshop, Newman’s approach is to insert people and their experiences into the conversation as a key driver for resilient infrastructure planning, Presenting alongside del Monte, Newman explained their belief in the importance of integrating stakeholder input into solutions. Their presentation expressed a happy confluence of regenerative development training, a design competition aimed at dealing with sea-level rise, and a vision for more humane urban development.

    “Betsy and my belief is that we must bring actual people deeply into the planning process so that Dallas can not just survive, but thrive with climate change.” Newman added, “Once we accept these goals, then the question is, ‘How can we affect the most people and do the greatest amount of good?’ This is where our approach to using press and engaging communities gains real power. These tools are available to everyone.”

    The 2016 Sustainable Showcase speakers exemplify the caliber of ideas, expertise, and tools that are available to USGBC members and attendees at events. For more information on the Chapter’s events throughout Texas, visit the Events Calendar on the website: http://texasgreenbuildingmarketplace.org/event/.


    About Anna Clark

    Anna Clark is the president of EarthPeople Media, a strategic communication firm serving start-ups, mid-sized enterprises, Fortune 500s and NGOs. An independent journalist on sustainability and social innovation, Anna’s voice has appeared in Huffington Post, GreenBiz.com, Guardian Sustainable Business, Al Jazeera English, The Christian Science Monitor and The Dallas Morning News.


  • Friday, September 02, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Houston Launches PACE Program
    By Tim Murray

    Houston formally launched its PACE program on Wednesday in a ceremony lead by Mayor Turner in the Legacy Room of City Hall. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. The voluntary program allows for buildings to finance energy and water efficiency improvements with private sector funding. The funding is then assessed as a senior lien on the property, which is why the city or county must establish the PACE programs. This allows for longer term loans, up to 20 years. Property owners can make their improvements with no upfront capital and ideally their payments are designed to be less than the anticipated energy or water savings resulting in a positive cash flow.

    Mayor Turner announces the launch of the Houston PACE program, August 3, 2016
    Photo: Tim Murray

    The Texas Legislature passed the bill authorizing taxing entities to establish PACE programs in 2013. Mayor Turner voted for the bill twice while serving as a state representative, so it was fitting that he be able to formally launch the program. Mayor Turner noted that if only 3.5 % of commercial properties in Harris County participated, it could result in a savings of $650 million in energy reduction. Currently $100 million of commercial projects are planned in Houston.

    John Hall, of the Environmental Defense Fund said that Texas has the highest potential of all states for energy reduction in renewables and demand reduction and the PACE program could result in billions in savings.

    Charlene Heydinger is the President of Texas PACE Authority which will administer the program for the city. Charlene has been a tireless promoter and advocate of PACE for years, yet she used her time at the podium to thank Steve Block of Thompson & Knight for establishing Keeping PACE in Texas. This non-profit organized the creation of the “PACE in a Box” toolkit that standardizes the PACE program. This standardization makes for quicker program establishment by local governments and provides consistency for lending institutions.

    Dub Taylor, Director of the State Energy Conservation Office is optimistic about how effective this structure can be for the private sector as he has seen the success of the state’s similar LoanSTAR program for public properties over many years.

    The Houston program represents the sixth PACE program established in Texas.

    City of Houston’s Press Release: http://www.houstontx.gov/mayor/press/houston-launches-pace-program.html

    Mayor Turner’s announcement video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiysRMt3o7I

    PACE in a Box: http://www.keepingpaceintexas.org/

    For more information: http://www.texaspaceauthority.org/


    About Tim Murray

    Tim Murray is a Sustainable Design Leader at EYP (WHR Architects) and has been the Project Team Administrator on 28 LEED certified projects. He serves as Secretary of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Texas Chapter and has been on the USGBC-Texas Gulf Coast Region (Chapter) Board of Directors since 2014. He previously served as Chair of the USGBC Texas Gulf Coast Chapter in 2006/2007, served on the USGBC National Chapter Steering Committee, and the national LEED Steering Committee during the development of LEED v4. Tim was the Founding Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Green Building Sub-committee. A registered architect, he graduated from the University of Houston and serves as Treasurer for his son’s Boy Scout Troop.



  • Friday, August 05, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Shootin' the Green Breeze
    by Chris Mundell

    Welcome to the inaugural blog for USGBC Texas! We felt it was imperative to share our thoughts and knowledge about sustainable strategies, resources, and tools for our members and their communities and we’ll be using this blog to connect with you on a monthly basis. 

    I'm Chris Mundell, and as the Chair of the North Texas Regional Council, I asked to start with the first blog.  It is hard to believe that 2016 is my ten-year anniversary as a LEED Accredited Professional. Sustainability has been a passion of mine for so long and it has been an honor to be able to incorporate that into my projects.

    In May, my co-worker and I were asked to be on a Radio Show to talk about Gensler’s approach to sustainability.  Speaking on the radio show “Shootin’ the Breeze” (Episode #25), I shared with listeners about sustainable strategies that make sense here in North Texas. The climate in this region is much different that along the US coastlines, for example. Therefore not everything can be accomplished like in those climate zones. Other topics I talked about included renewable energy from wind and solar power, the use of pervious pavers to help with storm-water management, and healthier materials to provide better indoor environments for occupants.

    Texas is one of the largest producers of wind power.  But much of that wind generation comes from West Texas and large wind turbines. A couple years ago, I helped the University of North Texas (UNT) achieve a LEED Platinum certification for its new football stadium. It also became the first Platinum stadium in the US.  Part of the design of the stadium included the use of wind power. UNT received a grant to design and install 3 “community scale” wind turbines. These turbines worked well in their location and continue to help offset the Stadium’s power. Another strategy that we incorporated on the stadium project was the use of pervious pavers for all the new parking lots and drives in lieu of poured concrete or asphalt slabs.  The pavers allow rainwater to seep through into the ground rather than runoff into the storm drains. 

    Lastly, one of the most important topics today is human health.  We are learning that the materials and products used to build our homes, schools, offices, and hospitals have an effect on our health. Research shows that we spend typically 90% of our time indoors, but the concern is that our indoor environments might not be the best spaces for us. So, we’re now looking more closely at how we design these spaces with proper air ventilation and filtration as well as the selection of healthier materials and products.

    I hope you get a chance to hear the radio show for the full conversation. Join us on this blog as we continue to share knowledge, best practices, and exciting project updates in green building.

    - Chris

    Chris is an architect at Gensler, where he serves as a Senior Project Manager, the South Central Defense and Aerospace Practice Area Leader, a Community-Flex Studio Operations Leader and a South Central Region Design Performance Leader. He has been involved in a wide range of architecture projects for the past 20 years for government, healthcare, commercial, educational and multifamily residential clients. In addition to his work roles, he is actively involved in the local chapters of AIA, CSI, and USGBC. Chris is the current Chair for the USGBC North Texas Regional Council, serves on the 2030 Dallas District Leadership Council, and is a past-president for the CSI Dallas Chapter. 


  • Friday, July 01, 2016 10:00 AM | Deleted user


    Resilience is a concept that is grabbing attention, especially with those who shape the world around us. The increasingly severe weather—flooding, droughts, and other natural disasters—teamed with power outages, threats of terrorism, and disease outbreaks, all increase the need for systems that can respond to these shocks and stresses.

    The AIA Dallas Committee on the Environment (COTE), USGBC Texas Chapter, and CSI Dallas have joined forces to present the 2016 North Texas Sustainable Showcase focusing on the importance of Resilience. A line-up of nationally known speakers and local experts will make the implications of designing for resilience clear to attendees.

    Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, will be the initial keynote speaker. A founder of the sustainable design initiative at HOK, she will introduce, define and expand the concept of resilience for the crowd.  Lazarus recently led the team that created the Resilience Pilot Credits for the LEED systems.

    Dr. Z Smith of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple in New Orleans, will provide the lunch keynote presentation. He will present some of EDR’s excellent work as case studies of designing for resilience.

    Jim Newman, of Linnean Solutions in Boston, will lead an interactive exercise to bring home an understanding of resilience in each person’s community and practice.

    All three speakers will gather for a panel discussion, moderated by Betsy del Monte, FAIA, about the implications for design professionals working on the built environment. Does resilience change anything? Does it change everything?

    The day will also include a discussion of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program with Theresa O’Donnell, Dallas’ Chief Resilient Officer, and Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilience Officer for El Paso.

    Those who attend will come away with a firm understanding about how resilience will affect our region, and how to craft an optimistic approach to include it.

    Register for the North Texas Sustainable Showcase here.


  • Wednesday, June 08, 2016 11:34 AM | Deleted user

    Dear Friends,

    This has been a monumental year for the USGBC Texas Chapter. On Earth Day (appropriately) we were notified by the State of Texas that our Chapter merger had been officially completed and the USGBC Texas Chapter had been officially recognized.

    The success of our merger is based in the positive support from each of the original Chapters and this predicts that consolidating into one Chapter will truly strengthen our organization’s ability to escalate green building to a whole new level in the State of Texas.

    We know from experience that when we unite, we have a stronger voice especially in fundraising and advocacy. The Chapter also benefits from greater collaboration and administrative efficiencies giving us a stronger foundation.

    One of the first tasks set for the USGBC Texas Board of Directors was the creation of Strategic Plan.  The following key focus areas will steer our efforts over next several years:

    Community

    Develop and implement programs to engage communities across Texas through individual and partner outreach, advocacy, education, marketing and communications in ways that promote local experts and successful projects.

    Environment

    Texans depend on the natural environment for clean air, water and energy. Development, construction, and building operations have a significant impact those resources and on the world around us. As significant increases in the population of Texas continue alongside expanded development and resource exploration, USGBC Texas has the opportunity and responsibility to forward the conversation surrounding these important issues.

    Economy

    Use education, outreach and advocacy to increase the demand for sustainably developed buildings and communities, and to generally promote economic activity in the green building and jobs sector in Texas.

    Organizational Excellence

    The formation of USGBC Texas is an opportunity to establish the model for USGBC chapters across the nation with regard to coming together in the name of service, stewardship, collaboration and leadership. We exist to provide an opportunity for service to the community, but also to provide service to our membership. We are committed to the tenets of transparency, accountability and partnership. We are the catalysts of change responsible for building the next generation of green leaders.

    The five regions of USGBC Texas – Texas Gulf Coast, based in Houston; South Texas, based in San Antonio; Central Texas, based in Austin; West Texas based in El Paso, and North Texas, based in Dallas – focus on gaining support for and involvement in green building activities within their communities through advocacy, community outreach and education.  Each Region has many ways for you get involved from speaking at middle school career days and Green Apple Day of Service projects to major symposiums on building energy use and water issues.

    Each of these helps us achieve our mission:

    To transform the way buildings, homes and communities are designed, built, maintained and operated in Texas through outreach, education, advocacy and partnerships, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life in Texas.

    As a non-profit organization, our mission is only possible because of the generous donations of our stakeholders and the work of our volunteers. In that spirit, I invite you to join us at the USGBC Texas Chapter to share a vision of the future of our state. 

    Sign Up to Be a Volunteer
    Get More Information on Becoming a Partner


    Best Regards,

    Keith Lindemulder
    Chairman, USGBC Texas
    Environmental Business Development, NuCor Corporation



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